As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. – Mark 1:16-18
According to our pastor in Florida, rabbis in Jesus’ time didn’t actively go around looking for followers. Those wanting to be disciples would seek out the rabbi and hope to be accepted, much like students applying to a college today. In choosing his students, the rabbi would speak a specific Hebrew phrase, translated literally, “Behind me,” meaning “I choose you,” or, “Follow me.”
This was precisely the same phrase Jesus used by the Sea of Galilee, when He called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples. According to Luke’s gospel, this was just after the miraculous catch of fish. (Luke 5:4-7)
Imagine the emotions felt by these common fishermen.
First, they’ve just experienced a massive haul of fish, after catching nothing all night. Then, as they are still stunned by this miracle, they hear the familiar words, “Follow Me.”
They had heard these words spoken in the past, but not spoken to them. As young boys, they had been passed up, or possibly had never had the confidence to apply.
Most of us understand the feeling of rejection, whether we’ve been last one “chosen” in elementary sports (which of course means not chosen), turned down for a prom date, not getting the part in the play, not making the team, denied entry to the hoped-for college, having the engagement broken off, not offered the job, or turned down for the promotion. I’m guessing most or all of us have felt that disappointment and eventual resignation that what we had hoped for was not to be. Maybe we never even applied, figuring we weren’t good enough and never would be. We can identify with Peter, Andrew, James, or John, who were expecting nothing other than being fishermen for the rest of their lives.
But now imagine a Man has burst onto the scene, performed miracles, and caused a stir everywhere He went. Imagine being in the crowd, just wanting to get a glimpse of Him. Imagine one day He performs a miracle for you, then looks right at you and says, in essence, “I want YOU.”
Would you say, “Naa, I got work to do,” or “I think You’re getting me mixed up with someone else,” or “I’m going to have to think about this …”?
Or would you have realized that this Man calling you was the greatest Rabbi who ever lived – that He was much more than a rabbi? Would you have had a stirring in your heart that let you know this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed? Would you have done what these men did – drop everything and follow Him, even if you don’t know where He will lead you, or what the outcome will be?
Matthew, the despised tax collector, tells a similar story of his own conversion:
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. – Matthew 9:9
When considering the context of the culture of that day and the appearance of this extraordinary Rabbi, what may have initially seemed a little odd suddenly makes perfect sense. I think if I were being called by Jesus, I would react the same way, wouldn’t you?
But wait … we ARE being called by Jesus!
He stands at the doors of our hearts every day, calling, “Follow Me.” It may not be on the shores of Lake Galilee, but He does call us, right where we are. He calls us through His Word, the Bible. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He makes it clear this call is for “whoever.“ – Is that you?
I’m guessing God has been calling you in other ways, too – in the way you feel a longing for something more, even though you don’t know what that “something” is. He may be speaking to you through someone who knows Him and wants so much for you to know Him, too. He may speak to you through “coincidental” articles, radio programs – or blogs!? – that answer questions that have been silently nagging at you all your life.
If you are feeling insignificant today, maybe even wondering why you’re here on this planet, take a moment and imagine the King of the Universe looking into your eyes, pointing to you – yes, YOU! – and saying,
“I choose you.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are so prone to judging ourselves and others by the wrong criteria. While we see “common” people all around us, maybe even seeing ourselves as the most common and insignificant of all, You see what the world doesn’t. You have divine perspective. And You alone determine the value of each of us. We know we are flawed, sinful people. We are utterly unworthy of Your giving Your life for us, and yet You did. Somehow, we must have huge worth in Your eyes – You have chosen us! You call us to forsake the old life of sin and follow You into a new life. Who are we to say “no”? We yield to Your leading, in Your name. Amen.